In the world of ecommerce there are lots of funnels to be found—try Googling it, you'll see what I mean:
These diagrams aim to help explain the process that users go through to reach purchase. Metrics can then be assigned to them to determine how successful a process it is. They're known as funnels because there are always more people at the top who taper off to the few that purchase at the bottom.
However the majority of funnels out there are related to marketing or the discovery journey. They often use quite vague language like 'awareness', 'consideration', 'prospects', etc. This might well be how the user is thinking but I prefer terms that relate to concrete actions that a user takes, which is much more useful to design with.
Another problem is that in a lot of these funnels the website isn't accurately represented: they are usually missing at least one step that users go through. If you just have a funnel that tracks website visits and then basket additions, you'll fail to learn whether it was the landing page, the search page, or the product page that has the biggest room for improvement.
Ecommerce websites actually lend themselves to a funnel as the steps a user must go through are pretty fixed. As a result this is a structure the vast majority of ecommerce websites use (whether they know it or not).
So for whatever reason an ecommerce website experience funnel is not one you find out there very often. To remedy that, here's my simple expression of how ecommerce websites are constructed and the actions a user must do to convert.
This structure consists of pages that are found in almost all ecommerce sites. Even if you have nothing else on your site, with these four page templates you should be able to make sales.
Here's an intro to the stages of my ecommerce experience funnel, I'll be doing a separate detailed post on each of the steps in the coming weeks:
The landing pages are the equivalent of the shop window in a physical store and the job here is to show users what the site offers and encourage them to 'enter the store'. It should also explain how it differs from other sites out there. Most users will arrive here.
This is similar to the inside layout of the store and the job here is to help users compare different options to find something they want to buy, often by splitting products up into categories. Some users will land here so there might also need to be a bit of explanation about the site brand.
The product pages do the job of a product's packaging in a real-life store. It needs to show off the thing despite you not being able to see it. It also must convey all the details and information a user needs to know to be confident in making a purchase.
This is where the user comes to purchase and often organise delivery. It's a somewhat standardised process so there are conventions to learn but also things you can do to make it quick and convenient to pay.
Not all sites will require every step of the funnel. For example, if you're selling a single product then it's possible to just have a product page without landing or search. And if you're only selling a few products you probably don't need the search functionality.
As all sites grow they do end up requiring all four of these steps.
I don't include a basket (or cart) in my funnel as not all ecommerce sites require them. For big purchases like holidays the user jumps straight to checkout. While on a lot of other sites it is just a summary step at the start of checkout. It only tends of play a major role on sites where users are buying a lot of products and they may use the basket as a list, which they prune later.
A first draft of my framework explaining how to carry out an evidence-based design process, mainly in the form of a diagram.
All you need to know about my new book, which will give you over 50 hints and tips for great ecommerce user experiences.
A look at how Canopy achieve a design for a curated set of search results compared to the massed results of Amazon.